Panel to review cost of Tejas

Panel to review cost of Tejas

Tejas Light Combat Aircraft, PTI file photo

The Defence Ministry has formed a costing committee to review the prices of Tejas Light Combat Aircraft produced by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited after the aircraft manufacturer quoted an exorbitant price tag to deliver the indigenous fighters to the IAF.

“I have asked the panel (headed by the director of the cost in the ministry) to look into the costing of products manufactured by the Defence Public Sector Undertakings. The Indian Air Force offered to get the LCA Tejas price examined by the committee. That will be the first task of the panel that will submit its report within 60 days,” Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said here on Friday in an interaction with journalists ahead of the monsoon session of Parliament.

This comes months after the HAL reportedly asked for Rs 50,000 crore from the IAF to deliver the 83 Tejas LCA to the force in Mark-1 configuration.

Years behind the original schedule, the indigenous combat jet missed yet another milestone as the final operational clearance of the aircraft – slated to have happened in June 2018 – has now been deferred to the later part of 2018.

In April 2015, a Comptroller and Auditor General report flagged 53 deficiencies in the IOC configuration of LCA Tejas limiting its operational efficiency and survivability.

The IOC version was approved with those 53 waivers with the manufacturers claiming that those flaws would be rectified in the FOC version.

The HAL has so far supplied 9 LCA Tejas to the 45 Squadron in Sulur. But because of a depleting squadron strength, the IAF wants many more of these indigenous fighter aircraft in a fully configured format, but the delay at the supplier's end continues.

The Defence Ministry has now proposed to send a senior IAF official to Bengaluru as the Tejas project in-charge to ensure faster delivery of the aircraft and complete all the regulatory formalities as fast as possible. The proposal, however, evoked a mixed reaction in the defence ministry and aviation establishment.

After Tejas, costing of other military hardware manufactured by other DPSU would also be reviewed by the panel. Nirmala said.

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